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Post #200 or what exiting times we have with Microsoft

Post #200 or what exiting times we have with Microsoft

microsoft_logoI struggled with myself very long on what topic I dedicate this post with the anniversary number 200 and ended up with this article.

We all had already a very exiting year with Microsoft. Microsoft is fully in his “reimagine” phase, and the winners of this are we – as users, and as developers.

Windows 8

The year was starting for me with a key milestone: Windows 8 CP. A more fluid and fast alternative to the DP Microsoft released last year. And we finally had a good amount of apps (for a beta build). I felt really in Love with Windows 8 after using it only a few hours. Windows 8 is totally different. The Metro start screen will change the way how users will interact with their PC – also if it is non touchable.

I am currently running the final version of Windows  (RTM), and I love it to use more and more apps instead of visiting websites. It is way more fun to use a twitter app than to use their website, for example.

It is a change in the daily use of your PC, but most of the users that I personally know are exited about how easy it is to use a PC with apps. Sure, there are some people who will not be satisfied. That is not a bad thing. We all like different kind of things. But I am convinced that the majority of people will accept the Metro screen as part of their PC. Period.

For Developers it is amazing: no matter what language you are using right now, almost everyone can do Windows 8 apps. No matter if you are a Web Designer, used to Java, C# or C++, your app can be there on Windows 8! And you can even use more than one programming languages in one app.

In March this year I visited the CeBit, a trade fair that is for technology news here in Germany. I was amazed about the things I saw from Microsoft, but Germany is not a big target for the mobile/IT-industry- at least not shortly after the MWC. You can read my report about the CeBit here.

Windows Phone

Windows Phone is also an important point on our list. Microsoft´s mobile OS may not be blown up as iOS or Android – but we are satisfied with what we have! The OS is fast, does Average Joe´s daily doings way faster than the other two OS – without Multicore-CPUs!!! Microsoft demonstrated this with their “Smoked by Windows Phone” campaign, which was happening in several countries around the globe.

The best thing is: The OS will be getting even better! The existing devices will get an update with new functions, that will further enhance the user experience. And there will be the next generation: Windows Phone 8!  Windows Phone 8 will get a whole new core compared to 7, that will bring a lot more features, and for all that spec-driven users out there also multi-core support. Soon we will know more about it (I guess in September).

Xbox 360 and Xbox Live/Zune

Microsoft is also evolving the Xbox/Zune services as well as the Xbox OS itself. If you were one of the lucky one´s like me to enter the Fall 2012 beta update program, you know that it is getting better and better.  I am not allowed to go to deep into detail, but a few things have been announced, like IE for Xbox.

Xbox Live and Zune services will be merged together to further enhance our experience. Hopefully Microsoft will be providing more features to all countries, not only US. Best example is Zune Pass, which is still not available here in Germany. I don´t know what issues Microsoft has with the Germany system, but others like Deezer and Spotify were also able to solve those problems. Let us hope all the best for this.

And then there will be SmartGlass. Your Xbox companion – regardless which device you use. SmartGlass will be used to extend the experience you with your Xbox. Additional info for Movies, extensions for Games, and many many more.

Office 2013

I am also exited about the free-to-test-for-everybody Office 2013 Preview. Microsoft changed the programs into streamed applications. And they are performing very well (even with my slow 2 MBit/s connection). On top Microsoft released One Note MX, a Metro app for Windows 8 for those who use a WinRT tablet only. Get it today via the official Office 2013 website (for up to 5 PCs!). Skype integration is coming later this year via an “Office app”.  There are also further apps in the Office Beta Store.

Microsoft Account and connected Websites

Microsoft changed the formerly known “Live-ID” into “Microsoft Account”. You still have all service like before, with a new name. But there is more. Hotmail will be replaced with outlook.com (in Metro Style). outlook.com has also a “People” app, “Calendar” and of course your “Mail”. On top we now have a Metro “Messenger”. SkyDrive is the last one in this round. Also SkyDrive has been Metro overhauled an got new functions, like a url-shortening service, using skdrv.ms.

MSiccDev goes BizSpark

As some of you know, I am also developing for Windows Phone and will start with Windows 8 soon. I started to learn creating apps because there was no app for fishermen, and I needed a fishing knots app in the marketplace. I am currently planning on a big service for fishermen that targets Windows, Windows Phone and the Web. To get things done with a little help from Microsoft, I applied for Microsoft´s BizSpark program – an got approved last week! Stay tuned, soon I will reveal more information about the project. But it is great that Microsoft support startups. A special thanks goes to @AWSOMEDEVSIGNER (follow him!).

Final thoughts

I don’t know how you feel, but that was a pretty awesome year until now. Windows 8 is around the corner, and will bring new device factors like Microsoft´s surface. All big vendors announced at least one Tablet/PC-convertible. Windows Phone 8 will be the booster rocket for the phone OS version, the codename “Apollo” fits really nice in here.  Microsoft´s vision of “three screens, once experience” is getting closer and closer. And the best thing: we all can participate right now!

Posted by msicc in Bing, Microsoft, Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox, 0 comments

How to turn on Bing maps traffic outside the US on Windows Phone

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Recently Microsoft´s Bing-Team announced another achievement in the collaboration with Nokia. Bing Maps is now using Nokia´s Backend for Traffic and Geocoding.

As a Windows Phone user, I wanted to test this also on my Windows Phone. And sadly, as I am outside the US, it did not show up.

So I contacted Bing Germany via Twitter to ask what is going on there. They also thought it would be available equally to the PC´s version of Bing Maps. They had to ask the German Windows Phone team.

After a couple of hours, they answered that it yet has to be rolled out. But there is a workaround.

So here is my little guide:

Open Settings/Language Settings and scroll down until the browser- and search language-field and change it to “English (USA)”:

After saving this setting, open the maps app on your Windows Phone. If you click now on the application bar, your will recognize the “show traffic” option. Tap on it to activate.

After a short loading time, the actual traffic situation shows up on your Windows Phone:

You can switch the browser and search language setting back, but then the setting is always active. It should only be a matter of time until the feature is available in all languages directly.

I hope this little guide helps you to use this awesome feature. This guide should work with any language, I tested it with German and Italian, both time working perfectly. Feel free to leave a comment below.

You can read the German Bing blog post here.

Posted by msicc in Bing, Windows Phone, 0 comments

Recently announced changes to Microsoft Advertising are rolling out

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As I told you recently, also the Microsoft Advertising service will get some changes.

The changes are now in effect, and all small businesses are receiving a notification about that via email.

Here is the full e-mail:

We’re notifying you that the Microsoft Advertising adCenter Terms and Conditions have been updated. Also as you may have already noticed, we’ve made a change in our brand; Microsoft Advertising for search is now Bing.
About our change to terms and conditions
We’re enhancing our service to provide greater payment flexibility. An adCenter prepay option will be available in select markets soon. When prepay payment is available in your billing country, the updated Terms and Conditions will apply.
You do not need to do anything to accept these updated Terms and Conditions. By your continued use of adCenter services, you agree to these updated Terms and Conditions. To view the updated Terms, sign in to your adCenter account and click the Legal link at the bottom of any page.
Learn more about this update on our adCenter blog.
About our updated brand
You’ll begin seeing our new look in all of our customer communications as we move from Microsoft Advertising to Bing. There will be no changes to your account; however you’ll see more of Bing in your account communications and updates. Read our blog to learn more about our move to Bing!
For questions about your adCenter account, contact sales and support.
Sincerely,
Your Bing Search Advertising and Support Teams

However for developers so far nothing as changed. I was able to log in into pubCenter as usual and had full access to my account.

Posted by msicc in Bing, Microsoft, 0 comments

Microsoft is making Bing very social – also for Windows Phone and mobile web

bind-three-columnsMicrosoft  today announced some very cool new features to Bing.

They have  redesigned Bing and will introduce a three column design where all of the new features will work.

Here is what we will get over the next days/weeks (Bing is still in final test stadium):

  • Core Web Results: Relevant, comprehensive and trustworthy.Microsoft will not mix search results with social updates. There will be only search results, and lets us concentrate on the core web results.
  • Snapshot: Get it done faster.Snapshots will show you relevant information to search results in the second column.
  • Sidebar: Social search done right. The third column will contain all of your social integration while you are on the web. Bing describes the sidebar as following:
    • Always present, never intrusive. The sidebar will appear as part of every query, but it will remain off to the right, allowing searchers to decide when and how to interact with it. We’ve moved most of the social content out of the main search pane and put it in a dedicated place where people can always expect to find it.
    • Ask Friends: You can post a question to get help from your Facebook friends as you search. You can “tag” friends Bing suggests might know about the topic. In a few simple clicks you can share your search and your friends can reply to your question on either Facebook or Bing.

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    • Friends Who Might Know: Once you authorize Bing, sidebar helps you post a question to get help from your Facebook friends as you search. Bing suggests friends on Facebook who might know about the topic – based on what they “like”, their Facebook profile information, or photos they have shared – so you can easily ask them about relevant experiences and opinions and go quickly from searching to doing. For example, if you’re searching for diving spots in Costa Rica, with the new Bing, you may discover that one of your Facebook friends knows a great spot, based on photos from their last trip to Costa Rica that they shared on Facebook. Or you might find a friend who lives in Costa Rica based on his or her Facebook profile. You and your friends can only see information you could already see about each other on Facebook.
    • People Who Know: Beyond friends, Bing can help you find people who are influential about the topic you’re searching, based on what they’ve publically blogged or tweeted about. In a glance you will see top experts and enthusiasts from leading networks like Twitter, Foursquare, Quora, LinkedIn, Google Plus and Blogger to quickly check out what they have to say about the topic you’re searching for. You can follow them, ask them a question or see what they have shared in the past.
    • Activity feed. From the activity feed in the sidebar, you can see, posts and queries you and your friends have chosen to share from Bing. You can help answer friends’ questions, “like” something interesting they have shared. Because these activities show up in both Bing (activity feed) and Facebook, you can comment on them from either place.

Bing added also a video to show you the new functions in action:

If you are like me and want to be amongst the first who hear if there is something new for Bing, check this page: http://www.bing.com/explore/new

As I mentioned above, Bing is in final testing and will bring the new functions after finishing it.

If you are outside the use, I recommend you to swap the country of Bing to the US to obtain the new features. You can do this by clicking on your country´s name in the top right area of Bing.

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Sadly also this time, Microsoft launches their new features for US only. But I guess they will port them over to rest of the world after some time.

Windows Phone will also get these features. They will add a webpage where you can swipe through the three columns, like it is integrated in a lot of apps.

Windows Phone will also get these features. They will add a webpage  where you can swipe through the three columns, like it is integrated in a lot of apps.

m.bing.com

You can also register for more information on m. bing.com/new.

A connection from Bing mobile to Facebook can be established right now, suggests to contain also social results:

bing connect to Facebook

I will use Bing as webpage instead of the integrated Bing function of Windows Phone to find out how deep the integration already goes.

I will keep you informed as soon as there are more news.

source: Bing

Posted by msicc in Bing, Windows Phone, 0 comments

Why Microsoft should not sell Bing to anyone

In the last few days several sites are telling us Microsoft eventually will be selling Bing to Facebook. One week ago there was an article on Neowin; today Business Insider published another one.

Microsoft already works close together with Facebook. So why should they sell Bing to Facebook for a higher stock amount?

Microsoft loses the huge amount of 2.5 billion USD. This is something investors are not amused about. And they would probably love to see Bing sold to Facebook.

In my eyes this would be a big fail.

Microsoft had a hard start with its own search engine. Bing has to stand up against Google, which is still the most used search engine. But slowly Microsoft´s Bing is getting attention. Bing has most of Google features like Search, Maps and Translator. What Bing is missing in my eyes is a Google reader equivalent.

Bing offers a background image which changes on a daily base. Users can easily download it or set it as background directly. Recently, Microsoft improved their image and video search results with endless Scrolling and other features. I love this features. Bing is also rolling out Street-Side as well as Maps changes (recently added venue maps to more regions).

But Bing is more.

Bing is an integral part of Microsoft´s ecosystem. Bing is part of the Xbox Dashboard, where it is used to search the whole Xbox content. Bing is also part of Windows Phone, and it is used a lot. You can use the Bing Bar to integrate Bing into your browser. I am sure we will see more integration with Bing in a future or the final Build of Windows 8.

Bing is not only part of Microsoft´s ecosystem. It is part of the company´s strategy. Microsoft is working to get Bing your decision engine. Bing will help you to decide all kind of things in future as it is becoming more intelligent.

I use Bing daily. From time to time I run a comparison search on Google. And for my needs Bing gives me the better results in over 90% of all cases. Someone may argue this to the fact that I am a Microsoft fanboy.

But it is not. I tell you why: today I ran a search on both Bing and Google. Bing gave me some really good matches on the first 5 search results. Google did another thing. It listed first Amazon and eBay results to me, which were in this situation totally useless. The results I found immediately with Bing were on page 4 and 5 of Google´s search results! This is the experience I often have when I compare the two. And yes, every time I run this comparison I use the same search terms on both engines.

Microsoft should not sell Bing.

Instead it should keep going on with promotion. Bing rewards for example. Sadly it is an US-only thing. Microsoft should roll out this globally. They have Windows Phone users, Xbox Users, and also PC users who can benefit from the rewards program. And it would help to broaden the user base that uses Bing on a daily base.

Bing for sure has room for improvements. But it delivers good results. It delivers a good user experience. And it will grow. One day Bing will write black numbers. And I am feeling like this day is not too far away.

Posted by msicc in Bing, Microsoft, 0 comments

Bing Video search updated to make searching for videos easier

Microsoft is constantly updating its Bing service, and now the video search has received an update. Once you search a video, your result page will look like this:

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If you go with your mouse over a video, it starts immediately to play. So you can see before going to the video´s page whether it is worth or not.

As you can see on the image above, you can also detail your search terms by length, resolution as well as set sources.

The most impressing thing for me is the “infinite scrolling”, which is also available on image search. You can scroll and scroll, and Bing adds automatically further results. No need to click on a “next page” button, this is providing a “fast and fluid” experience.

The update is available in all countries where Bing Video currently is available.

What do you think about this? Shot me a comment below.

source: winbeta.org via Bing

Posted by msicc in Bing, 0 comments
(Update 2) Bing Germany updated with new functions

(Update 2) Bing Germany updated with new functions

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Yesterday Microsoft launched an update to their search engine Bing in Germany.

New: Hotspots

International users may now already this function, but to us in Germany it is new. Once you move the mouse on the Bing-homepage, you will recognize some squares on the image.

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You are wondering what they are doing? Well, they provide further background information about today´s image. Today for example it is all about Cádiz, a famous carneval city in Spain. Once you move your mouse over a square, more information and a link are provided:

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This feature is now also available on German Windows Phones:

Screen Capture

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More intelligent search results

Microsoft´s goal is to provide contextual search results. For example, searching for a movie on the PC will show up some critics and other information about the movie, as you can see on the screenshot below:Screenshot (81)

The results for Kung Fu Panda 2 (my kids love this movie as well as I do), leads to the official page, the wiki page, some videos and the IMDB page. On your Xbox you will get all the entries which are available for Xbox like Movies to rent or buy as well as games related to your search.

Bing Tour in German

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The Bing tour in German language shows you how you can make your life easier with Bing. The video shows how to search for videos, images, as well as use it on your Windows Phone. You can watch the video at http://www.bingtour.de/.

Local Scout finally in Germany

UK and US users can use this feature for a time now. Since yesterday, this also works here in Germany. With Local Scout you get search results nearby you:

Screen Capture (59)

Update 1:

The dedicated “Local Scout” button still disappears on German Windows Phones. The search itself is working as aspected. I will update this as soon as the button is available.  (Thanks  to Mark who reminds me the missing button).

Update 2:

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According to Bing Germany´s Twitter account, Microsoft is working to make the local scout functionality in Windows Phone fully available. For the moment it is only working in normal search, the dedicated button disappears from German Windows Phones. No word when it will be ready to use.

So finally Microsoft shows some love for us here in Germany. Hopefully this will happen to the Zune pass too, which is still missing here in Germany. What do you all think of this changes?

Posted by msicc in Bing, 2 comments

Bing and Nokia Maps – finally unified

Last year Microsoft and Nokia announced their strategic partnership. One point of this partnership is also their maps.

Bing and Nokia Maps designers have been working hard to offer an unique experience to us. Yesterday, both posted about the result of this work.

The new Maps will be available through web version as well as on Windows Phone.

New color palette for road map style

Bing and Nokia updated both their coloring of the maps, which leads to a more streamlined look. It is now easier to interpret roads on the map, as shown here:

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Typography and Visual Hierarchy

With updated fonts, a new structure on labels more based on zoom levels, Bing and Nokia are providing a more clear readability as well as usability. Only information which is necessary and sense-full will be provided. Both learned that to much information creates an overload, which cuts deep into the user experience.

New Bing Maps also on Windows Phone

Also on Windows Phone the changes will be applied. Look at these two shots to compare the old map style and the new one.

Nokia-Maps-on-Nokia-Lumia-Old-Design                      Nokia-Maps-on-Nokia-Lumia-New-Design

Bing Maps has grown mapping coverage to a bunch of new countries, like Egypt, Israel, Malta, Philippines, Uruguay and Venezuela.

It´s good to see another fruit of the strategic partnership between Microsoft and Nokia.

You can read the full post over at Bing´s Blog as well as on Nokia´s Blog.

Posted by msicc in Bing, 0 comments
My review of a year with Microsoft and a to-do-list for 2012

My review of a year with Microsoft and a to-do-list for 2012

iluvallMS

With the end of the year just around the corner, I want to take a look back to an amazing year for me as a Microsoft fan. There were certainly ups and downs, but over all it was a great year – as user and also as developer.

I do not want to take any numbers – there are already dozens of post where the numbers were discussed, so I guess we don´t need to get another post about this. I will tell you how the year felt for me.

ces_2011_logo

First we got a look into the future at the CES. With the CES we received a first view on Microsoft´s new strategy: Metro over all devices. We saw a first preview of Windows 8 with a Metro design part, but still have to wait for more information until Build in September, which was a specific event for Windows 8 (codename for now). The most appreciated news was the SoC-technology (System on a Chip), which will be supported by Windows 8. Also there were some Kinect improvements, as well as an updated version on Microsoft Surface. And finally Microsoft announced the NoDo-features like Copy&Paste.

The NoDo-Update came for Windows Phone. Well, as I got an unlocked HTC HD7 at this time, this was no real problem for me. I forced the update (thanks to the guys who found out this little trick), and that was it. This changed only little things. The carrier locked phones had to wait a bit longer, as the carriers were still in testing. The update seems also to do not well with some Samsung Phones, so there was always bad critics for the update process.

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Ok, Back to February and to the Mobile World Congress. MS gave us a first preview on the Internet Explorer 9, and compared it to the iOS-Safari. It was clearly the better one. But as always Microsoft also made us sad, as we had to wait until Windows Phone Mango. Finally we got also the first note that Windows Phone will receive Multitasking capabilities. And then there was the big bang of Nokia joining the Windows Phone game.

At the same time I made my fishing license. After I got approved for it, I wanted to download some fishing apps. But there wasn´t even one at this time. I thought by myself, ok, give them some time, they will come.  The first time I was on the water I needed a special knot, luckily I was on a place where I got an internet connection. But it was annoying to not have an app for it. So I decided to learn the Windows Phone development.

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Back at home, downloaded the tools, and found out that at Channel 9 is a Beginner series for Windows Phone Development. I stepped through to all the videos, and after 2 month or so (due to my primary work it took that long) I started to develop my fishing knots application. I learned a lot more while I was coding this application, but the basics I learned helped me a lot to get started.

mix11

While I started with my own WPDev-Story, in April Microsoft held his annual MIX-conference. This was the first time for me, that it was not only from a user part from interest, but also from a developer part. We received an updated SDK, which was an huge step towards Windows Phone Mango. Microsoft announced 1500 new features which we developers can take advantage from with the new Windows Phone Mango release. User will get over 500 new features. The Kinect SDK expanded to Windows, with some really cool projects to use with. And last but not least Microsoft released the final Beta of Silverlight.

Skype_Logo

The rumours were also going wild for Microsoft to buy Skype. Well, finally in may Microsoft and Skype announced that the rumours were true.

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Until now, a awesome first half of the year. Then in June, the annual E3-Games convention started. Microsoft introduced a bunch of new games, like Fruit Ninja Kinect, Forza Motorsport 4 as well as Family Titles like Disneyland Adventures for Kinect or Once upon a Monster for Kinect. My kids where as excited as I was, there was only one big error: We had a Xbox, but no Kinect. This was one reason I wanted a Kinect like never before. Well, Santa (aka my wife, 1000 kisses for her) solved this little problem for me a few days ago. Also some titles for Windows Phone were announced, sadly not all of them where released until now. We also were introduced to the new Xbox Dashboard and the new bunch of features like Voice commands. Microsoft released also Kinect fun labs, which is a portal to some awesome Apps for Kinect like Build a Buddy or Kinect Me!.

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In July Windows Phone Mango got RTM-status, followed by a special developer beta. I enjoyed the beta, and all on my primary work were jealous about the fact I had mango before them.

threescreens

After a calm summer, in September Microsoft revealed Windows 8 and released to Windows Phone Mango Update. Together with the new Xbox Dashboard, Microsoft revealed its “3-Screens”-Strategy.

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With new Windows Phone Hardware it steps forward, Nokia launched also finally their first Windows Phones. More and More must-have Smartphone-apps came to Windows Phone, such as Navigon or Whatsapp. Microsoft´s own advertising system launched in other countries like Germany and some other European countries.

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Well, also my Blog made a change. With all that Metro-stuff around me, I am now addicted to this design. A hosted blog on WordPress was no longer good for me, so I registered msicc.net and host it on my own. I found a good designer who has experience with themes for WordPress, and he made this fantastic metro design for me. It is currently still a work in progress, as there will be a mobile metro theme as well as some other features.

Microsoft released also some of their services on the other smartphone platforms iOS and Android. MS is a software company, and this step is more than logical for me. Some features are also after exclusive to Windows Phone, so it does not really hurt.

It was an amazing year, but there were also some disappointing things: Microsoft stated that Skype will launch on Windows Phone this fall, then by the month of December. Sadly it is still missing. We tried to force Microsoft to release it via twitter or Facebook, but there was and is not statement when we will get it on our Phones. Also Photosynth, launched on iPhone and promised for a launch with Mango, is still not here – without comment from Microsoft.

I really hope Microsoft will really work with the feedback we provide trough their programs on userchoice.com to improve the overall experience on Windows Phone, Xbox and Windows.

Still there are a lot to-dos for Microsoft for 2012:

  • release Skype as an app
  • built in Skype into Windows Phone
  • Make all Bing features available outside the US
  • improve the Xbox-Live-Game-Submission on Marketplace
  • continue to get more devs on their side to provide Windows Phone apps
  • more marketing for Windows Phone and the experience
  • improve Windows Phone with the newest technologies like NFC, dual core CPU´s
  • open even more APIs to us developers
  • make TellMe simply better than Siri on iOS, including opening to developers
  • shorten the time between announcement and release btw. increase betas to more customers
  • release Zune-Pass in more countries. This is still a huge advantage over the other platforms as it is built in!
  • gain more partnerships for content on Xbox, Windows, Windows Phone
  • release more features in small updates to the Windows Phone platform to compete with the others, instead of releasing only one major update
Posted by msicc in Bing, Dev Stories, Microsoft, Windows, Windows Phone, wpdev, Xbox, 0 comments
First venue maps available for Germany on Bing Maps

First venue maps available for Germany on Bing Maps

While writing my post about Streetside in Germany, I recognized a button for venue maps on German Bing Maps.

Currently there are two airports and 13 malls available.

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I used the airport of Nuremberg in my previous post, so i recognized that there is also a venue map for it. Here are some screen shots:

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So you can see the two floor levels of the airport, and can use Bing Maps to navigate In-house to your desired terminal or other places like ticketing etc. Great to see this improvement coming (slowly, yes, but still coming) to other countries.

Although there is also a link to a “more info about this venue”-page, this currently does not work. So I guess this is something like a test for Germany, I will update this post as soon as I am able to open this additional page.

Posted by msicc in Bing, Microsoft, 0 comments